The first twelve Quadra residents who responded to an advertisement in the local newsletter were invited to join a book club focused on reading and discussing Indigenous authored books. My co-facilitator, Ruth Jackson, and I created a formidable list that would allow our readers to respond to a wide range of topics that address the history and reality of Indigenous peoples in Canada.
Selecting a list of books was a challenge because there are many excellent titles and podcasts to choose from, and we wanted to present a variety of texts capable of deepening the awareness and knowledge of the participants. Our first meeting took place in Sept 2023 and will continue until March 2024 with a holiday season break. We read Namwayut – We Are All One by Chief Robert Joseph. It was a powerful meeting that shifted readers in ways that may allow this small group and the next generation to view Indigenous peoples differently.
A timeline of residential schools across Canada and a short report on Orange Shirt Day was developed and provided as a resource to provide a context for the book and the podcast that followed. Facts and truths are important as we work together to pave the way toward reconciliation. Our first book is a book that is constantly unavailable because it is in such high demand. It was followed by the podcast Stolen by Connie Walker, a compelling first-hand account from the voices of residential school survivors. The third selection is entitled A Mind Spread on the Ground by award-winning Haudenosaunee writer Alicia Elliott. This book grapples with the ongoing legacy of colonialism – issues of trauma, legacy, oppression, and racism in North America.
The cost was a factor for us because books are expensive. The first book was purchased and was given as a gift to participants. Bonanza Books, a local bookstore, gave us a 10% discount on the first purchase. The remaining funds were divided into individual gift cards, which will be given to participants toward a book purchase from Bonanza Books. The church in Cape Mudge is not charging us rent, which has saved us some money. Securing access to online or hard copies of remaining titles is something that the co-facilitators will work on.
We have worked with Kathy Landry, the Quadra Literacy coordinator, and the Quadra branch of the VIRL to share the information about this book club and learn about the Indigenous authored book club sets in circulation. This book club could be ongoing, given the high interest it is receiving. Many residents who are not currently club members have stopped to talk to me or have called to say that they would love to join in the future.
We would like this book club to continue and look forward to continued support and growing interest from the community to bring people together in the spirit of reconciliation.
Jan Gladish & Ruth Jackson,